New Oklahoma AG takes over probe of agency’s barbecue deal

Jan 22, 2023, 7:01 PM | Updated: Jan 23, 2023, 9:54 am
FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2023 photo, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond arrives for inaugurat...

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2023 photo, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond arrives for inauguration ceremonies in Oklahoma City. Drummond's office confirmed Monday, Jan. 23, 2023 his office will take over investigations into allegations of corruption at the Commissioners of the Land Office and a barbecue restaurant deal with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, file)

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, file)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The office of Oklahoma’s new attorney general confirmed Monday that it will take over two separate criminal investigations into alleged misuse of public funds at state agencies, including the tourism department’s contract with a barbecue restaurant.

A criminal probe into the barbecue deal involving the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and a separate corruption investigation at the Commissioners of the Land Office will be transferred from the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office to the office of Attorney General Gentner Drummond.

Former Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to look into both matters last year. An OSBI spokesperson confirmed Monday that both investigations are ongoing. The transfer of the investigations was first reported by the online news organization The Frontier.

“This case includes allegations of fraud involving millions of dollars in taxpayer funds,” Drummond said about the investigation into a multimillion-dollar contract between the Tourism Department and Swadley’s Bar-B-Q to renovate and rebrand restaurants at state parks. “The Office of Attorney General is the appropriate entity to determine if the findings merit prosecution and, if they do, to prosecute any wrongdoers. One of my top priorities in this office is to end the culture of corruption and scandal.”

A state watchdog agency told state lawmakers last year that under the contract, the state agreed to subsidize the restaurant’s financial losses, which ultimately cost the state $2.1 million, and pay the restaurant management fees of $1.34 million. In addition, the restaurant company served as the general contractor overseeing the construction and charged the state management and consulting fees on virtually every invoice that ranged from 5% to as much as 35%.

Officials with Swadley’s Bar-B-Q have denied wrongdoing.

In the investigation into the Commissioners of the Land Office, the Tulsa World newspaper reported that the CLO’S secretary, Elliot Chambers, fired the agency’s internal auditor after she questioned him about his personal investment relationship with Victorum Capital, which was being paid by the CLO as a consultant on investments. Chambers later resigned.

Both the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Commissioners of the Land Office were headed by officials selected by Gov. Kevin Stitt. Drummond, a Republican, defeated Stitt’s handpicked Attorney General John O’Connor in a GOP primary last year.

“Governor Stitt fully supports the continuation of these investigations he called for to ensure taxpayers are protected and looks forward to the continued impartiality of the investigations to uphold the rule of law and shine a light on corruption in state government,” Stitt spokesperson Carly Atchison said in a statement.

___

Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
20 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Tiny California mouse wins Guinness award for longevity

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A tiny California mouse now has a big title after winning a Guinness World record for longevity. A Pacific pocket mouse named Pat — after “Star Trek” actor Patrick Stewart — received the Guinness approval Wednesday as the oldest living mouse in human care at the ripe age of 9 years […]
20 hours ago
This shows a Chinese Dahua brand security camera in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Aust...
Associated Press

Australian Defense Department to remove Chinese-made cameras

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Defense Department will remove surveillance cameras made by Chinese Communist Party-linked companies from its buildings, the government said Thursday after the U.S. and Britain made similar moves. The Australian newspaper reported Thursday that at least 913 cameras, intercoms, electronic entry systems and video recorders developed and manufactured by Chinese companies […]
20 hours ago
In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a mi...
Associated Press

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un presides over big military parade

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un brought his young daughter to a huge military parade showing off the latest hardware of his fast-growing nuclear arsenal, including intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the United States, state media said Thursday. North Korean photos of Wednesday night’s parade in the capital, Pyongyang, […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Filmmaker Ken Burns walks with inmate Rahsaan Thomas at San Quentin State Prison in San Quen...
Associated Press

‘Ear Hustle’ podcast co-host is free from San Quentin prison

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A co-host of “Ear Hustle,” the Pulitzer Prize-nominated podcast produced behind bars, was released from San Quentin State Prison on Wednesday, a year after California Gov. Gavin Newsom commuted his sentence. Rahsaan “New York” Thomas, 52, left the lockup near San Francisco and was greeted by his fellow podcast co-hosts Walter […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
New Oklahoma AG takes over probe of agency’s barbecue deal